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SEDIMENT OXYGEN DEMAND AND SEDIMENT NUTRIENT CONTENT OF RECLAIMED WETLANDS IN THE OIL SANDS REGION OF NORTHEASTERN ALBERTA

Slama, Carsten A.. 2010. University of Windsor

Abstract

Sediment oxygen demand (SOD), nutrient concentrations, and submergent macrophyte biomass were measured in reference wetlands and oil sands process material-affected (OSPM) wetlands in the oil sands region of Alberta. Any or all of these factors could influence the success of wetland reclamation in this area. Gas flux and SOD chambers were deployed to determine the biological and chemical components. Nutrient concentrations were estimated from water and sediment extractions as well as PRS™ probes. Sediment oxygen demand was slightly higher in OSPM-affected wetlands than in reference wetlands. Over 85% of SOD was due to chemical processes, likely due to ammonium oxidation. High SOD could limit benthic respiration and ultimately affect carbon stores. Reference wetlands had greater submergent macrophyte biomass than OSPM-affected wetlands but phosphorus concentration could not explain this difference. This implies that sediment oxygen demand, phosphorus concentration, and submergent macrophyte biomass are independent ofone another among wetland classes.